Our Leaders, Our People, and Our Image in Australia

Most people reading this blog will be aware of Dvir Abramovich’s opinion piece in yesterday’s Age. To read my detailed response to his many factual errors, you can read the the post below.

In short, what had been a flash-in-the-pan feature about this blog, appearing on page 8, last Sunday, was transformed into a spectacle that reflects very poorly on our community.

Abramovich has every right to object to my views, or the way I present them.

He even has the right to argue his case poorly.

Whether he has the right to make gross errors in asserting such falsehoods as this blog’s determination to attack the entire community, is debatable. A more litigious person than me might have sought legal advice.

More murky, however, is the issue of how we present ourselves to the outdside world.

The style and tone of Abramovich’s article may appeal to a certain sector of our community, but it is not something that is likely to appeal to Gentiles. They would have found it patronising, heavy handed, and devoid of news value – as many emails to me yesterday and today have attested.

How many of those who are very angry about this blog – and how many of our leaders – have a number off close, non-Jewish friendships?

How many of them regularly mix in non-Jewish circles? How many have achieved the required closeness with non-Jews for them to be honest about how they view our commmunity?

Here are some things I’ve discovered in my “travels” outside the community:

The people most likely to have a positive view of Australian Jewry and Israel: a certain type of Christian fundamentalist (no surprise) and secular Muslims who despise their homeland regimes (big surprise).

The people least likely to have a positive view of Australian Jewry and Israel are: Islamists/leftists/Arab nationalists (no surprise) and ordinary, otherwise apolitical Australians (big surprise).

Of course, most Australians are not anti-Semites or consciously anti-Zionist.

But they’ve rarely received a coherent explanation for why Israel, as a Jewish state, is not inherently racist.

They’ve all seen our leaders froth and bubble on TV. They’ve read the leaders’  strident opinion pieces in the dailies.

And the impression they get is that a) there is a Jewish lobby, and b) if someone upsets the lobby, a very public castigation inevitably follows.

The Australian culture is inherently suspicious of such stridency. It can never be an effective method of conveying our cause.

Many of us who do move in non-Jewish circles often find ourselves doing PR damage control.

No, Israelis are not all racist. No, there is no Jewish lobby that controls Canberra’s Middle East policy. No, Jews are not all hostile to debate.

How many of us have been operating in this unofficial PR capacity since our school or uni days?

More to the point, what does it say about the efficacy of our leadership’s relations with the media that this unofficial campaign for the defence of Zionism and Australian Jews even exists?

Why are not more young people engaged by our organisations, using new technologies? Such young people would ideally have attended non-Jewish schools for a period of time so that they do not make the mistakes of tone and cadence that infect so much of what currently passes for Jewish PR.

This gross miscalculation was best evidenced in Abramovich’s article yesterday. Apart from the activity in the comments thread here, I was inundated with emails from Jews expressing variations on the theme of embarrassment that this was how our entire community was being represented to broader Melbourne society.

Most importantly, we must remember that we are not American Jews. Australia does not have the, “special relationship” the US has with Israel. Our lobbyists are not in the same league as American Zionist lobbyists.

The moment support for Israel becomes an electoral liability – i.e. the moment ordinary Australians begin to care enough about “problems” with Jews or Zionism or the Middle East – it will not cost any Australian government much to abandon previous friendships.

The current state of Jewish public discourse seems almost to be asking for this eventuality.

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65 Responses to “Our Leaders, Our People, and Our Image in Australia”

  1. A sensible Arab says:

    Making peace with Egypt was relatively easy, Israel gave it back the Sinai, and even accepted the ruling of the international Court at La Haye for Charm El Cheikh! With the palestinians what are you going to do?… They either fled, were kicked out, or occupied. I like Lynette the Christian’s imagery of the indigenous populations: The refugees, the settlements in the West Bank, and the “grateful” Arab Israeli citizens smacks of Terra Nullis legal metaphor.

    I appreciate that the IDF tries to follow the Laws of Armed Conflicts, unlike its foes. But what does it do to the Israeli soldier on the long term to be on the checkpoints, or to be on the warpath regularly? with all its ugliness. What type of society are you engineering?

    So you loose hope? Hope is supposed to be the “religious” specificity of Judaism! Faith Islam and Charity Christianism. You don’t try at your level to push for peace? An honorable and just peace? even if it takes 50 or a hundred years? What is the alternative? Making peace with your enemy is a nice catchphrase, but it is also the only real game available, all other roads lead to more destruction either to self or to your palestinians neighbours, with which you are stuck for ever, whether you like it or not, with or without the wall…

    For cultural and religious reasons Fatah and Hamas are not likely to become Ghandi followers. They are not going to object to your ocupation of the Westbank and the myriad of settlements by laying down on the road. If the Irish can do it in Northern Ireland, so can the Israeli and the palestinians. It will take time and effort, in pushing, cajoling, threatening etc…

    I believe strongly that both parties have to use the Golden Rule, mentioned in my first post. For example the Israeli population would not want palestinian settlements in their midst, why are they imposing them on their neighbours?

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  2. Lynette the Christian says:

    It all boils down to the fact that the Israeli;s are going nowhere…and neither are the Palestinians. Considering the amount of misery that this conflict has caused over the last 40 odd years it is time for a brave new approach in finding a just and fair solution to both peoples. I find it particulary sad that Hamas is in the process of forcing a brand of hardline Islam apon the Gazan populace. Since the withdrawal of Israeli settlers & Israeli troops from Gaza things have gotten progressively worse under Hamas rule. Palestinian Christians are leaving in droves because of Islamist intolerance towards people not of the faith. At least in Israeli controlled areas, freedom of religion is guaranteed. I noted that one poster said that Hamas & Fatah have the same agenda when it comes to Israel. There must be some considerable differences if the US is investing in training Fatah members of the security forces. Europe and the US are placing a lot of faith in Abbas to forge Fatah into a more democratic body, with all it’s accompanying institutions. If it can be achieved, it could be a good start to building new bridges between Israel and the Palestinians of the West Bank. But the same cannot be said of Hamas & Hezbullah who cling to hardcore Islamist ideals. I have seen enough of Nasrullah’s rants to be convinced that things will never improve under his ‘leadership’. Most Palestinians just want a normal life, to raise their families, make a living and enjoy life. I believe that Israel could lessen the hardships (particulary in the West Bank)and make life better for the populace. I think that ALL new settlement activity should cease….outposts should be dismantled, and there should be a crackdown on militant settlers intimidating and threatening Palestinians in what was essentually their own land prior to 1967. The image of the ‘ugly settler’ is tarnishing Israel’s image all over the globe. Israel would get much more International support if they seriously dealt with the issue. Israel & world Jewry in my view can afford to be fair and just. All it takes is courage. You have always had that throughout history…why not now?

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  3. Lynette the Christian says:

    It would appear that Palestinians are not the only ones to find life tough inside Israel proper. Maybe some members of Melbourne’s Jewish community could help out….well, surely Rabbi ‘Diamond Joe’ Gutnick, and Frank Lowry could!

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6821008.ece

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  4. Morry says:

    I think, Lynette and Sensible Arab, that at the core of the problems in the Middle East, and the reason why we’re finding it so hard to find a meeting point, lie the conflicting narratives.

    Historians will find historical documents, whether agreements or resolutions, and these form “points”, which when joined, form the historical narrative. The points can’t move, but one can certainly discuss the way they have been joined, and present alternate narratives. But you can’t simply invent new points, or ignore existing ones and still come up with an acceptable narrative. This then becomes the way to test narratives. Take Lynette’s “before 1967 the occupied territories WAS (under International Law) Palestinian land” for example. This is patently wrong, as the land was never ever Palestinian (nor did “Palestinians” exist historically), but was captured from Jordan in 1967, who had previously arbitrarily decided to co-opt it in 1950. This new erronious point colours the rest of the narrative, because, as you see above, Lynette uses it to base what comes next on, and the moral judgements she makes as a result.

    I took all this to heart and abandoned all narratives, went back to primary documents (there’s a wealth available online in the UN archives), and formulated my own narrative, which is very relevant to this discussion.

    Perhaps the most important point, because it dictates everything that followed and you can’t make sense of the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate without it, is that Jews are indigenous to Palestine, Arabs aren’t (including Palestinans). I know that this is not a politically correct position, but it is immutable fact. The Jewish nation was born in Palestine, Arabs first arrived as conquerors and colonisers in the 8th century. The purpose of the League of Nations was to restore this indigenous people to its homeland (and no, you won’t find the word “indigenous” as it didn’t then have the popularity of usage it has today. They speak rather of “unique connection” and the fact that Jews stemmed from this area and were driven out).

    So, if you’re making the Aboriginal parallel, perhaps a reversal may be appropriate, and consider, if the early settlers had loaded the Aboriginal population on ships and transported them to Fiji two centuries ago, would you favour their return home now? This was certainly the position of the League of Nations.

    But Palestine was divided in 1924 to form a Jewish homeland on 20% and an Arab one on 80% of the land, much as India was divided to form Pakistan and India. The West Bank and Gaza were allocated as part of the Jewish homeland. Perhaps the most surpirsing thing, given the current strife, is that this was acceptable to everyone, as the Weizman-Faisal Agreement shows. Everyone, that is, bar a tiny handful led by one man, Haj Amin el Husseini, the virulently antisemitic uncle and mentor to Yasser Arafat. All of the Arab-Israeli conflict and probably international terrorism can be historically traced back to this man, father of Palestinian terrorism.

    The same three groups that were created then, Arabs, Jews and terrorists, continue to exist today. The Israelis and the Palestinians are both suffering because the terrorists are now in control … and that is a part of the narrative that has been simplistically reduced to two conflicting groups, beause that’s what media do.

    There are so many other “points” in the narrative that have been ignored. There is the absolute undetrpopulation of the area before larger numbers of Jews arrived and began developing it, and perhaps most important, the documentation regarding land ownership, and Ottoman land policies … that make it clear that nobody at all was dispossessed, but it’s too much to cover in a posting like this. I’m more than happy to enlarge on it if anybody’s interested including appropriate links, if I can figure out how to do that.

    Many of the narratives I see ignore the indigenousness of Jews, ignore the League of Nations role, ignore the Mandate and its purpose, ignore the documentation on land ownership, and simply claim “the Jews took Palestinian land”. Get an authentic narrative going, and you’ll be surprised how quickly we all agree.

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  5. A sensible Arab says:

    Conflicting narratives! Oh yes, I agree wholeheartedly.
    That is why I tried to stay away from narratives and mentioned what to me looked like facts: Palestinians fled, or were kicked out of “Palestine”, you get palestinian refugees in refugee camps and palestinians occupied in the WestBank. I have visited the biggest refugee camp in Lebanon and my lasting impression was that of a ghetto!(what a powerful and fitting metaphor), and I am trying very hard not to compare it to worse in recent Jewish narrative.

    It is first and foremost an Israeli problem that is not going away regardless of the creativity in the narratives. That is why I am asking you to put yourself in their shoes. What would then be your narrative? In your long e-mail you have not touched on the issue of the settlements, which was an important issue touched on, by both Lynette and myself, you would not have a problem with them by any chance?

    I do not dismiss the “indigenousness” of the Jews to Palestine. Only that they were not the only ones! Jews were indigenous to the entire Arab world. It is said that Baghdad was a third Jewish before 1948. 1967 brought an almost complete de-judaisation of the Arab World. In your narrative you dismiss an entire people form having ever lived in Palestine prior to the waves of Jewish migration in the last 150 years. That sounds like Terra Nullis. At best it is like the ostrich burying its head in the sand, and at worst of Nasser, of Hamas and others wanting to send the Jews to the Sea. Can you see the analogy? If you dismiss the palestinian people right to a place they call home, where their ancestors lived, how will you make peace with them? A just and honourable peace?

    You cannot lay the fundations of a Nation on the negation of another people. This is poison to good political governance. Because of it, I believe that the idealism and integretiy of the founding Fathers (and Mothers) is slowly changing to the likes of Katsav, Olmert and wait for it: Lierberman. Is the Extreme right compatible with a People that has experienced the Shoah?

    I have, (we all have) a personal stake in a more peaceful world, and especially a peaceful Israel/Palestine/Holy Land. This is my first foray in engaging a Jewish readership through a blog, to prod all stakeholders towards peace.

    Finally I value the honesty, the openess and the tolerance.

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  6. Larry Stillman says:

    Morry

    There are many issues you raise in your post, that can be disputed, but I will only deal with one because it is one of the real faults on both side.

    With all due respect, the indigenous argument, for both Jews and Arabs /Palestinians is a furphy, given the hugely mixed racial (I don’t like the word) orgins of people, the mixture of religions and cultures, and throw in metaphyscial historical-relgious narratives and you have a huge mess.

    It is absolutely stupid and irrelevent to argue who came first when the history of the region is so overlayed by population changes. {whether of not you use the term Arab or Palestinian, it is still the same issue]

    Why? We should start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (please sing this)

    For the earliest ancient, local documentation, as far as I know, the Amarna letters from Egypt (which I have read in the original Akkdadian, with one of the greatest scholars, W.L. Moran), there are letters in the archive from local vassals which sometimes slip into a Canaanite dialect. They were not Jews, Hebrews, or whatever you want to call them. And the Hab/piru wer not Hebrews either (another group mentioned), but perhaps Hurrians. But they do tell us a lot about the politics and instability of that period.

    See the info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarna_letters

    It is also strongly argued by scholars that the ancient Hebrews were as much ‘derived’ from Canaanite origins as any external group, and the argument will never be completely resolved, because we don’t know the relationship between the ancient Hebrews who came from Mesopotamia (Abraham etc-Ur, Harran), and the people of Canaan, not to speak of Egyptian influences.

    It means that an Jewish people can’t be distinguished from the ancient culture and religion around it–and we see that struggle against that ‘influence’ in the way the Hebrew Bibile is constructed. It is even harder for scholars to know what was going on because of the multiple sources of the bible that mix together all sorts of religious streams–we end up with Ezra’s edition, though we know there were lost ‘books’. The results of modern bibilical archeological scholarship, although subject to a lot of argument, also show how tenunous are many of the truth claims made in the bible (and on the basis of it) See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Finkelstein.

    So while modern Jews can claim some connection with an ancient historical kingdom, and existence under various forms of occupation they were not there ‘first’ and plently of other people were there as well. Arabs can claim at least 1300 years of very clear presence as well. The nomenclature ‘Arab’ also turns up from at least around 800 BCE as well, outside of Arabia.

    Thus, Palestinians probably have as much right to claim that historically, they are also descended from these ancient people, even if, their ‘blood stock’ is also mixed with that of Greeks, Romans, Arab invaders, Jewish converts etc after the Arab invasions.

    Thus, this means that it is hard for contemporary Jews to claim a ‘blood stock’ connection that is stronger than Palestinians.

    Once you start to try to realy apply an exact ’science’ to the past to decide who has orginal claims, you end up frankly, with something that the Nazis became pretty expert in their perversion of German history. I assert that to be the case with both ‘Zionist’ (eg, http://www.eretzyisroel.org/~samuel/arabclaims.html) and Palestinian claims to exclusivity or indigenaiety (see a very offensive example, http://www.freearabvoice.org/articles/TheArabIdentityofPalestine.htm).

    Thus, I strongly argue that the word indigenous should only be applied in settings like Australia, where it is pretty much clear, bar mixing with Macassars, Chinese etc, that there were many tribes here for a long, long time.

    But what are we left with, if it all isn’t what we think it is? It’s clear that Jews have a religious identity based on some historical experience and presence, but that presence should not be allowed to deny the presence and rights of others. And the same equally applies to Palestinians. Both have deep identities and long connections that have come into conflict in modern times.

    The problem is of course, how to negotiate an equitable presence for both groups.

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  7. Sisu says:

    The narrative will only take us so far. We can endlessly debate the hows and the whens and who has the greatest claim to suffering or to land…and it is not going to get us anywhere.

    On the presumption that it is just to have a “Greater Israel” in the Middle East…what happens to the Arabs living in the Territories now? Are they to be excluded from the lands of their parents and grandparents? Where is the justice there?

    If Israel is to be disbanded or forced to take in refugees as part of the right of return, then there will be no such thing as a Jewish state. And there is no justice there either.

    Israel has a non-negotiable right to exist and to be able to guarantee the safety of their citizens…and to define their citizenship. But likewise, that same guarantee must be extended to the Palestinians. Tabling two millenia of grievances isn’t going to do anything.

    What is needed is proper statemanship on both sides that recognise that the Israelis and Palestinians have an intertwined destiny; that neither side is going away (and nor should it); and that the truth is not found on either extreme.

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  8. Morry says:

    I appreciate your prompt response, Sensible Arab, and you raise some interesting points that I’m more than happy to address.

    Let me begin with the refugees, because I see this as a serious human problem. You use the analogy of a ghetto, but seem to forget that it was not the Jews who forced Arabs into camps and refused to let them assimilate, but their own Arab bretheren. It would be much like the Jews concocting ghettoes, forcing other Jews into them and crying foul, wouldn’t it? Perhaps the greatest obscenity are the refugee camps in the West Bank and in Gaza. These people are literally living amongst their own Palestinina bretheren on an equal footing in a land they call home, Palestine. Why are they in these camps, and what makes them refugees by anyone’s standard?

    By defining Palestinian refugees, as opposed to any other refugee in the world, as anyone who left that part of Palestine that became Israel any time after 1946, and their offspring in perpetuity, the UN has ensured that the problem of the Palestinian refugee will always be a growing one (currently around 7 million) and one that, by definition, can never be resolved. Say, hypothetically, an Arab gentleman met an Australian lady in Palestine in 1946 and decided to marry and settle in Austrlaia. Say he became a citizen, wealthy, moved to Toorak. His grandchildren, Aussie in every way, are, by definition, Palestinian refugees, and entitled to an UNWRA handout.

    Make the Palestinian refugee a refugee like all others, whereby homes are sought for people in danger, but when such safe havens are found they cease to be refugees … and this will quickly cease to be a problem overnight.

    The Lebanese have forcibly prevented those in Palestinian refugee camps from acquiring jobs or assimilating in any way. These people have lived in Lebanon as secondclass citizens, without offer of citizenship or the right to vote for their own future since 1948, in what is said to be a democratic nation, though other Palestinians have been made welcome and offered citizenship. Why exactly are they being so oppressed? I have to disagree with you, this problem isn’t Israel’s, but of Arab making … for me it’s as heartbreaking to see as for you.

    You ask about the settlements. Whilst I deplore all violence, and that includes settler violence, and in those cases I applaud the Israeli government’s efforts to bring perpetrators to justice, I don’t have a problem with Jews living there. No more than I have a problem with Arabs living in Israel … two sides of the same coin. Frankly, any posotion that says that Jews are not welcome amongst Arabs, or blacks not welcome amongst whites, smacks of the worst in bigotry. I have serious problems with the way Christians are being driven out of the West Bank and Gaza where they have lived for centuries. It runs parallel to the genocide of the Christians of southern Sudan, and the eviction of 800,000 Jews from Arab and noth African countries after 1948.

    The settlements make up a grand total of 1.5% of the West Bank. They have a history. The bulk of that land was purchased by Jews in the 1930s. They were to be part of Israel but were lost to Jordan in 1948. Jordan retained their title, and so that land still belongs to Jews, and the Etzion Block (purchased by a gentleman named Holtzman in 1930) was initially resettled by grandchildren of those who were massacred there in 1948. These are lands that have been excluded in every negotiation, and it is highly unlikely that any Israeli government will vacate them. Which brings me back to, why should that be necessary?

    I think some of our disagreement hinges on the term “indigenous”. It is not simply a place people call home, but it is the place to which they are native, the place that a people stems from. Palestine is the only place in the world to which Jews are indigenous, because that is the place the Jewish people was created, in the same way as Arabs are indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula, and Aborigines are indigenous to Australia, Zulus to Africa etc. Over the years Jews may have called other places home,but the world recognises a very special relationship between natives and their stomping ground … and hopefully always will.

    I find your idea of “negation” strange. The Palestine Madate was a huge area that encompassed today’s Jordan, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. The League of Nations adhered to the prinicples of self-determination, that each people has an inherent right to follow its own destiny on its own piece of land, and so they gave these lands that the Ottomans once owned to the residents. The Mandate oif Syria was divided into Syria and Lebanon to give both Moslems and Christians that posibility. Similarly, Palestine was partitioned into a Jewish homeland and an Arab homeland in 1924. That recognised both, negating no one, giving both the opportunity to pursue their destiny in the environment they chose to set up. In fact the Arabs received the lion’s share, 80%.

    But they refused to accept the right of a Jewish state to exist, which is still at the heart of the conflict, which is why I find your claim of the negation of the Arabs so strange, when it is the Jewish right to self-determination that is being negated. They haven’t been allowed to peacefully set up their own state, even on that pithy little spit of 20% of Palestine. It’s like a child whose been given 80% of a cake wanting to take the other child’s 20% as well. This may seem right and fair to you, but from where I’m looking, it is the very source of the conflict … to have what was given you, Jordan, and to want the little the other was given as well.

    I think that peace will come when the idea of a Jewish state is countenanced, and Palestinian leaders can actually say the words and mean them …. that’s why it has now become an issue. Certainly Abass has now twice stated categorically that he “will never recognise Israel as a Jewish state”. I hope I’ve addressed all your concerns adequately.

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  9. Daniel Levy says:

    A Sensible Arab, I can do nothing but nod my head at everything you’ve said.

    I vomited in my mouth a little when I read all those months ago that Netanyahu would pander to Avigdor Liebermann to form his coalition. And, for major hilarity, position Liebermann as FOREIGN LEADER.

    Any extremist ideology is not compatible with peace. It requires dogma and an inability to compromise. At the heart of this conflict is the absolute need to compromise.

    I do not think Netanyahu’s government can bring peace. In order to stay in government, it must satisfy the extremists that make up its coalition. These extremists want no peace to speak of. When a centrist party like Kadima takes hold of power, that will be the first step in achieving peace. When Hamas sheds its terrorist arm, that will be the first step in achieving peace. Sadly, for the next few years at the very least, neither outcome seeks remotely likely.

    My greatest hope, in fact, is that one of the idiotic parties holding together Netanyahu’s patchwork government will get pissed off by something that Netanyahu does, break off, and dissolve the government resulting in new elections. Then, hopefully, Israel will wake up and elect Tzipi to power.

    I look forward to conversing further with you, ASA. :)

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  10. Morry,

    Thanks for your excellent comment which really crystalized a key barrier to progress. The world expects Israel to take a lead in forging a solution, and yet the narrative has been hijacked to the point where many reasonable and fair solutions (e.g. ones that require Egypt and Jordan to have a role) have been pushed off the table.

    While we all like to push blame and responsibility toward one party or another, it’s actually not at all pragmatic. Israel made a unilateral move by getting out of Gaza and effectively creating a Palestinian pseudo-state, and now we have an even more scrambled egg.

    Israel’s first obligation is to its citizens. Lynette mentioned that Arabs/Palestinians living under Israeli control have it much better. At some point, perhaps Palestinians en masse will decide that its in their own interests to be part of an Israeli-annexed area than to leave it to their inept/corrupt leadership?

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  11. Morry says:

    Thanks, David, and you do raise some interesting points. The pullout from Gaza is one. People locked into a two way conflict point at what has become of Gaza and say “see, the Palestinians have no interest in building a state, only in attacking Israel”. That’s little more than a two dimensional carricature, that involves believing that your average Arab living in Gaza wants his infrastructure destroyed, his traffic lights carved up for rockets, and his job gone. The reality is that this is only true for the current “leadership”, and, whilst I’m quite sure that “Palestinians en masse” are sick to the teeth of it, they are wholly powerless to do anything about it (these are people who simply throw enemies off high rises). In the last election they were given the choice between two terrorist groups, Hamas and Fatah, and an independent from the most powerful criminal clan in Gaza.

    Following the history of how we came to this is a sad exercise, and involved many Israeli and international mistakes. The worst was perhaps in allowing changes to the Oslo accords. The only excuse was that people were so blinded by the possible propect of peace at long last, as to be far less discriminating … and I put myself squarely in that category. The prerequisite that the PLO not return from Tunisia and the accords not go ahead until the PNC changed its charter so it no longer called for Israel’s destruction, should have been stuck to, as the principle behind it, that negotiation requires goodwill, and calling for the destruction of your negotiating partner is wholly passe. The Oslo accord also envisaged the PLO setting up a Palestinian Authority that would ultimately, with Israeli and international help, oversee the transormation of the Palestinians into a nation. The reality was that the PLO invited every terrorist group that had ever killed Israelis to be part of this Palestinian Authority. This should have rung warning bells worldwide, but again “peace” was at stake.

    It’s easy enough to see how we came to this point, today, but oh so very hard to see how to change it. Pandora’s box has been opened and the terrorists released to rule the roost. For the Palestinians to have any future at all, the terrorist leadership must go, and that’s far easier said than done. I know that it’s not going to involve the Palestinian masses, because they are as powerless to forment change as were the Iraqis. I also know that the entire push for a state has come, not from Hamas, not from the Palestinian people, but solely from the PLO. My belief is that your average Palestinian simply wants, as he has always done, to feed his family and live in peace. They did that very happily from 1948 to 1960 as Jordanian citizens (no intefadas there), and happily under Israeli control, before PLO involvement.

    This brings me to the only solution I can think of, and I’m sure that better brains may find better ones. Given that the western part of the West Bank is arid, almost unpopulated, Judean Desert and 98% of the Arab population can be found east of the fence, I would make that the new border, restore the West Bank to Jordan, with international help to remove the terrorists (and a helluva lot of incentives), I would build a tunnel from the West Bank to Gaza and offer that to the Jordanians as well. I think the incentive of having a port on the Mediterranean could be a clincher. Jordan has always been pedantic about not allowing terrorists to operate from its territory against Israel … so peace would be a definite possibility.

    As a footnote, we are on the threshold of being lulled once more. People are looking at Fatah crackdowns on terrorists with hopes for peace, but forgetting that Fatah is now in a live or die struggle for power with Hamas, and this is far more likely to be about retaining power than a new love of either Israel or peace.

    It’s sad that this is probably the first time in history that terrorists have actually been given territory from which to operate, with no host to answer to, and a captive population whose children make wonderful canon fodder. Nobody deserves that.

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  12. sensiblejew says:

    Hi everyone.

    Life has been extraordinarily busy. A big thanks to Wolfie, Princess, Sisu, Rory, and others who have written supportively. Thanks also to those of you have sent me supportive emails and Facebook messages. I’ll be answering them tomorrow.

    For the record, to condemn all discussion of the best way forward for our community, is to condemn us all to a communal sclerosis.

    And for anyone who has important information to reveal: please go ahead.

    Maverick might also like to provide a genuine email address or other contact details. That way Maverick, our forum troll who goes by so many names and is so enamoured of threats and vile language, can be known to us all.

    Generating identities here, spamming, abusing homosexuals, women, and Arabs, making foreboding comments, and producing a fake Facebook ID for stalking purposes (“Amos Cohen” for anyone who is interested) is making him look more and more desperate. It seems he is dying to get my attention.

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  13. sensiblejew says:

    Morry and Wolfie,

    I happen to know that you are both people of immense good faith, and keen intelligence.

    We can’t expect to agree on everything all the time, but we do need to give each other a fair hearing.

    We all benefit from keeping the tone as civil as possible. That doesn’t mean – God forbid – that we water-down our arguments or hide our beliefs, but let’s just go in now, assuming that anyone who’s actually commenting here, is doing so because they have something valuable to contribute.

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  14. sensiblejew says:

    Welcome, Sensible Arab.

    It’s good to see you here. Hopefully the new moderation regime around here will allow for some interesting responses to your very thought-provoking comment.

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  15. sensiblejew says:

    Wonderful comment, Morry.

    Lynette and Sensible Arab, I would like to commend you both on the way in which you’ve presented your arguments. While I agree with Morry’s position on this issue, it’s nevertheless heartening to see such an emotive topic discussed so civilly.

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